Orthotics is a specialty within the medical field concerned with the design, manufacture, and application of orthoses (braces).
An orthosis (pl. orthoses) is an externally applied device used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system, commonly referred to as a ‘brace’. An orthosis/brace may be used to:
- Control, guide, limit and/or immobilize an extremity, joint or body segment for a particular reason
- To restrict movement in a given direction
- To assist movement generally
- To reduce weight bearing forces for a particular purpose
- To aid rehabilitation from fractures after the removal of a cast
- To otherwise correct the shape and/or function of the body, to provide easier movement capability or reduce pain
Orthotics combines knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics, and engineering. Patients benefiting from an orthosis may have a condition such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy or have experienced a spinal cord injury or stroke. In addition, orthoses are sometimes used prophylactically or to optimize performance in sport.
An orthotist is the primary medical clinician responsible for the prescription, manufacture and management of orthoses. Our orthotist is Canadian Certified and has Departmental Assistant status at Providence Care Hospital, Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital.
Both the design and materials used in the manufacturing of orthoses keep evolving. Lighter components and materials such as carbon-fibre, fibreglass, and thermo-plastics enable orthotists to manufacture devices that are more user-friendly as oppose to traditional materials used, like leather. Companies such as Bioness, Optima Molliter, Ottobock, and Ossur continue to expand horizons, and enable clinicians to offer patients options which are unique and forward-thinking.